Thursday: Festival Warm-Up – Documentaries can rock… big time!
This year’s big opening act in Eindhoven is the premiere of Mark Harwood’s documentary “Soaring Highs And Brutal Lows: The Voices Of Women In Metal”. The film is a compilation of personal experiences told by female singers from the metal scene, like former Anneke van Giersbergen, Doro Pesch, EPICA’s Simone Simons, DELAIN’s Charlotte Wessels, ARCH ENEMY’s Alyssa White-Gluz, STREAM OF PASSION’s Marcela Bovio and a whole lot of NIGHTWISH’s Floor Jansen and her – other – band REVAMP.
The vocalists discuss business anecdotes, day-jobs, sexism, among other interesting topics and things get very intense when talking about health issues – Floor Jansen topping it all when tearfully re-telling the story of her burn-out. Rounded with some live- and tour-footage of REVAMP and other bands, the documentary is a great view behind the scenes of the lives of these hardworking and hard-rocking women.
After the screening, half of STREAM OF PASSION delights us with an emotional but short acoustic set – that makes my head sing ‘Now Or Never’ all night long – ending with a guest performance by Anneke van Giersbergen.
Friday – Let the performances begin!
Before the bands begin to play we’re already at the venue meeting and interviewing the bands. Today’s opener is French symphonic metal band WHYZDOM. This is the first time we see them live and they have prepared a special appearance by the Dark Whispers Choir, which supports them in the studio but rarely on stage. Front woman Marie Rouyer makes a good impression on the festival’s Large stage with her presence and singing skills, even though her style still reminds me a lot of the band’s original singer Constance Amélane and I wonder if Marie imitates her by choice or if that’s the band’s preferred vocal stylistic.
AUTUMN is up on the Aardschok stage and I can’t believe I hadn’t seen this band live before. Marjan Welman has a great voice and her energy and dance moves on stage make me think of Anneke van Giersbergen. In fact, I can hear some THE GATHERING-influences in AUTUMN’s sound – and I love it. Suddenly I notice they have three guitarists on stage and the band enjoys their performance as much as the crowd enjoys them.
Then it’s up the steep stairs again to the Large stage (this venue provides a good workout) to see VISIONS OF ATLANTIS in their new line-up featuring singers Siegfried Samer and Clémentine Delauney. The Austrian band performs mostly songs from their early albums, for they plan to go “back to the roots” with the style of their up-coming work. Although the line-up seems stable and the chemistry on stage is great, I can’t overhear a couple really flat tones from both vocalists.
Our interview-duty calls and the next performance we see is the last song-and-a-half by LACUNA COIL. Fortunately they’re some of my all-time favorite LACUNA-tracks ‘Nothing Stands In Our Way’ from their latest album “Broken Crown Halo” and the classic ‘Our Truth’.
The late-night gig is in the hands of ARIA FLAME and they do a wonderful job closing the first day of the festival. Despite the fact that most of the festivalgoers leave the venue after the headliners, the band from Michigan still captures the rest of the audience with their fun and heavy style. According to their Facebook-page their music has “circus flair”, which becomes clear to me when I see front lady Azziza Poggi’s awesome feathered green dress. This is a very special performance, not only because Dutch Keyboarder Joop DeRooij can’t always join the band live, but also because of the guest appearance by MERCY ISLE’s vocalist Kassandra Novell for the last song – a delight to ears and eyes.
*Since we missed DRACONIAN’s performance, we asked singers Heike Langhans and Anders Jacobsson to sing for us at the after party, which led to an awesome 3-second private gig (originally on our Periscope).
Saturday – a fashion show, a gaming soundtrack and a band missing!
The last festival day starts early but with the wonderful experience of Dutch fashion designer Ingeborg Steenhorst’s work. This time around she not only designed a beautifully badass clothing line and a music accompaniment like last year, she composed a whole album together with Ivo van Dijk and put together a live band that performed while the models worked the catwalk. The project entitled ”BACK to ROOTS” was partly funded by fans through an Indiegogo-campaign and artistically deals with mankind’s destruction of our planet. The artist calls to return to nature, which finds a lovely metaphor in the evolution of her musical taste and influences of her work in the ”BACK to ROOTS” collection.
As amazing as it is to see KARMAFLOW in concert again, their performance seems a little bit out of place. Taken out of the context of the story-based videogame of the same name – which if you haven’t yet you should check out a.s.a.p. – the wonderfully well written songs lose a lot of their charm. With the projections of the game art and the intricate costumes, some of the rock opera we saw in January comes alive but in the end I just want to go home and play the full, interactive version on my computer.
We catch only a little of STREAM OF PASSION, but with our perfect timing we hear Marcela announce it’s her birthday and tell the crowd that it’s still her turn to sing and a better gift than the “happy birthday” song, would be the crowd singing along to ‘The Curse’, which we naturally do gladly.
But wait! Weren’t we supposed to interview Marcela right now? Well good luck with that, the band just started their show. Then we notice the changes to the day’s running order: XANDRIA is missing. A quick research on social media and our smiles vanish – the German band had to cancel their performance due to drummer Gerit Lamm’s health problems. We meet front woman Dianne van Giersbergen at her jewelry stand – she misses the band too!
It seems to us, that most of today we spend lost in the labyrinth of stairs and doors of this venue. You see, the building is a big block in the city that accommodates two decent sized stages. As much of the Dutch architecture, Effenaar is built upwards, with artists’ lounge and dressing rooms in the fourth and fifth floors respectively. We learn to love the elevator but also the timesaving stairs, which we of course use only for moving downwards. In spite of the harsh loudness in front of the stage, backstage we can only hear a murmur of CRIPPER’s performance – compliments to the sound proofer, ‘cause Britta Görtz is LOUD. So for all of you coming next year, don’t forget your hearing protection!
But before we start getting excited for next year, THERION’s performance was flawless as always, very operatic and a party on stage. But the very end of this year’s Female Metal Event brings us the pleasure of seeing LOVELORN DOLLS on stage, a dark rocking Belgian band that we totally recommend. The highlight of their performance features a guest: ASRAI’s singer Margriet Mol on the song ‘Happy Valentine’ – a lovely finish to our visit to The Netherlands.
All pictures by Anno von Sachsen.